"Funny, dark, strange, gothic, and beautiful—an extraordinary journey through three broken lives.”
Former best friends who built their careers writing about a single work of art meet after a decades-long falling-out. One of them, called to the other’s deathbed for unknown reasons by a “relatively short” nine-page email, spends his flight to Berlin reflecting on Dutch Renaissance painter Count Hugo Beckenbauer and his masterpiece, Saint Sebastian’s Abyss, the work that established both men as important art critics and also destroyed their relationship. A darkly comic meditation on art, obsession, and the enigmatic power of friendship, Saint Sebastian’s Abyss stalks the museum halls of Europe, feverishly seeking salvation, annihilation, and the meaning of belief.
“Saint Sebastian’s Abyss is one of the first of its kind by an American writer, a sleek novel about Renaissance art, rivalry between friends and devotees, the ‘perilous promise of a dead canvas,’ and the meaning of the obsessions that orbit our careers (and what happens when we glimpse, even briefly, meaninglessness and the abyss beyond our singular obsessions). There’s not a single sentence in this book that isn’t ecstatic. To read it once is staggering; to read it again is necessary.”
“Evocative of the work of Thomas Bernhard, László Krasznahorkai, Gilbert Sorrentino, and other great literary obsessives of a satirical stripe, Saint Sebastian’s Abyss by Mark Haber is whip smart, scalpel sharp, wicked funny, and, ultimately, genuinely moving. Fans of Haber’s excellent Reinhardt’s Garden are in for a serious treat with this one. I loved it and can’t wait to see what comes next.”
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